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Final Word: Lesson from James’ return to Cleveland is apologies work

A recent story in USA Today opens with, “You shouldn’t be known for the worst thing you ever did.”

For most of us, who can honestly say we have behaved badly at some point in our lives, we have to hope this is true.

Those are the words that Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was hoping were true as he flew to meet LeBron James to talk about the possibility of signing with Cleveland.

After Lebron announced four years ago via national television that he was “taking his talents to South Beach to play for the Miami Heat, Gilbert reacted.

He did it quickly, sitting down to his computer and banging out an angry letter that mocked James, calling him narcissistic, self-promoting, and cowardly.

Haven’t we all penned a letter like that one, if only in our heads?

Maybe we dared to write it down, or speak the words aloud, but we knew what we would say and we were passionate about it.

Dan Gilbert said he showed that letter to a couple of people and some tried to talk him out of it, but he didn’t listen.

He was too emotional. He posted it. And everyone saw it.

Hey, he was fighting publicly with the biggest name in basketball. Basketball fans loved the drama, but most thought Gilbert was being childish.

Know what? James ALSO said he regretted announcing his departure from the Cavs in such a splashy way. He said he didn’t think it out properly. Sound familiar?

Since 2010, what has continued to dog Gilbert and Lebron?
For Gilbert, the letter. For LeBron, the announcement.

They both were the wrong thing to do, but neither could shake those actions.
So, Gilbert manned up and apologized.
He took the intitiative and picked up the phone with an olive branch.
Last week, Gilbert and James met, and each shared their regrets, like men.

The result is the thing Clevelanders have been waiting for all four years — King James has gone home. (Actually, Cleveland has been waiting since 1964, if you want to know the truth.)

If that is what happens when two men are big enough to apologize, even when EVERYRONE is watching, couldn’t we all afford to apologize for some past transgression?

Just think what might be possible.


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